Woo Who!

The next Doctor Who will be a woman, Jodie Whittaker. Ms. Whittaker, a native of Yorkshire, England, is known for appearing in Attack the Block (2011), One Day (2011) and St. Trinian’s (2007).


Galaxy Fest

355 issues of Galaxy Science Fiction magazine are now available for reading online or downloading here.

According to Wikipedia:

galaxymagazine-1950-10“Galaxy Science Fiction was an American digest-size science fiction magazine, published from 1950 to 1980. It was founded by an Italian company, World Editions, which was looking to break into the American market. World Editions hired as editor H.L. Gold, who rapidly made Galaxy the leading science fiction (sf) magazine of its time, focusing on stories about social issues rather than technology.


galaxymagazine-1951-02“At its peak, Galaxy greatly influenced the science fiction field. It was regarded as one of the leading sf magazines almost from the start, and its influence did not wane until Pohl’s departure in 1969. Gold brought a “sophisticated intellectual subtlety” to magazine science fiction according to Pohl, who added that “after Galaxy it was impossible to go on being naive.”[2] SF historian David Kyle agrees, commenting that “of all the editors in and out of the post-war scene, the most influential beyond any doubt was H. L. Gold”. Kyle suggests that the new direction Gold set “inevitably” led to the experimental New Wave, the defining science fiction literary movement of the 1960s.”


Eight fought adventure

Another evocative Jeff Jones cover that, alas, does not occur in the book.

On the cusp of Summer, eight stalwart Beamers grappled with the flashing swords and dark sorceries of Fritz Leiber’s redoubtable pair, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser.  Though, as in true Beamer fashion, many doubts about the pair were raised, particularly with regard to their paramours. Continue reading

The children of the night, what tuneful tones!

Shouldn’t an alternative version be titled “Alucard”?

In the May 2017 issue of Locus, Stefan Dziemianowicz reviews an alternative (or “lost”) version of Bram Stoker’s classic vampire novel, Dracula.  Published in Iceland(!) in the early 1900s, with the title Powers of Darkness (Makt Myrkranna), it differs from the traditional edition of Dracula published in England in 1897, in ways both small and large.  The post title is the PoD quote better known in English as “Listen to them, the children of the night – what music they make!”  The events in London are compressed into fewer chapters, while a Europe-wide conspiracy of the elites lead by the Count is added.  But, the Icelandic edition boasts an introduction written by Bram Stoker himself for its publication, so it bears some level of authenticity.

For Dracula scholars, then, the question comes what text was the basis for the Icelandic version?  An earlier draft, from which Stoker removed many of the “potboiler” political thriller elements and characters?  Stoker’s wife published the story “Dracula’s Guest” as a chapter edited out of the final draft, but vampire fiction students speculate that it, too, is part of an earlier draft and not the final manuscript.  So, horror fans may take an interest in this (possibly earlier) take on the iconic vampire of modern literature to glean insight into how the Count arose from the fertile ground of Bram Stoker’s imagination to stalk our nights.

Juno, winning the race, pole to pole

NASA’s Juno probe is beginning to return data from its close-up views of Jupiter.  Entering orbit around the gas giant on July 4, 2016, the craft maneuvered into its current pole-to-pole transits on August 27, achieving a low altitude of 4,200 kilometers (2,600 miles) above the Jovian cloud tops.  Now, NASA has published the first 2 papers based on the data collected on that earliest fly-by.

Looking up Jupiter’s south pole.
Photo credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Betty Asher Hall/Gervasio Robles

So far, Juno has helped determine that Jupiter’s magnetic field is much less uniform, almost “lumpy”, which could indicate that it is generated much higher than the planetary core and thus subject to the planet’s dynamic atmospheric systems.  Those systems are also coming under scrutiny, with the belts showing differing thicknesses (equatorial belt going down to the surface, while belts at other latitudes dissolve into other structures at depth).

Juno’s orbit swings around Jupiter every 53 days, spends 2 hours in proximity gathering data, and the 6 megabytes of data collected require 1.5 days to download.  “Every 53 days, we go screaming by Jupiter, get doused with a fire hose of Jovian science, and there’s always something new,” says Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), the principal investigator for the Juno mission.  Up next is a fly-by of the Great Red Spot on July 11.

In the company of wolves (domesticated)

Like the happy ending, the cover was amended to be less upsetting to canine-friendly readers

In an unseasonably cool May, the Beamers traversed the Lake district of England in November, chasing across the fells and along the dales in the company of two escapees from the horrors of medical experimentation, Rowf and Snitter, the Plague Dogs.  Labeled as such by the sensationalist British press, the two canines try to survive in a wilderness that confuses and yet attracts them, safe from the pains suffered at the hands of the “whitecoats”, humans who are not true masters.  Would the plight and the charm of the two refugees strike a sympathetic note with the hard-nosed Beamers, or would they face an audience as stern and uncaring as the lab chief, Dr. Boycott? Continue reading

Spirited away by the beat

Lars Gotrich of NPR is reporting that Australian music producer Andrei Eremin (aka Ghosting) was inspired by Hayao Miyazaki’s ghostly story of loss and redemption, Spirited Away, to sample and re-mix the soundtrack.  Looping in a piano track and adding a synthesized beat, Eremin “shades the original [soundtrack] with darker hues that manage to retain its wide-eyed wonder.”

Eremin, pleased with results of his Spirited Away experiment, is now planning to sample and re-mix all of Miyazaki’s films.

The accompanying video gives a foretaste for the entire re-mix project, the Reimaging Miyazaki Mixtape, that will be available on May 12 on Wondercore Island:

The whole is other than the sum of the parts

More than human cover

Richard Powers, at the height of his powers, brings the surreal.

On a pleasantly brisk Spring evening, the Beamers came together to examine the coming together of a science fiction classic, More Than Human, by Theodore Sturgeon.  Built around his story, “Baby is Three”, it tells of how the next step in human evolution is built around a melding of different, somewhat damaged, individuals into a new, unified identity, Homo Gestalt.  Would the Beamers unite around a single opinion on the book?  Or would we find it too damaged to believe? Continue reading

How can you keep them on the farm?

Inheritance cover

Eating crow is tough enough when they are not acid-based life-forms.

With weather not conducive to raising crops, the Beamers met to discuss Leah Bobet’s novel about life on the farm after the Big Bad has been beaten, An Inheritance of Ashes.  Caught up in the family drama of the Hoffmann sisters and their struggles with missing husband, mysterious stranger, and recurring incursions of little monsters, the Beamers were able to forget the outside chills and concentrate on what really matters: is it science fiction or fantasy?  Continue reading

Snow dwarf and the seven worlds

The biggest news in planetary exploration came out in February when astronomers announced that the TRAPPIST-1 system contained 7 terrestrial (Earth-sized) planets in orbit around their ultra-cool dwarf star, a little less than 40 light-years from Terra Firma.

Named for the telescope that discovered the first 3 worlds in 2015 (the TRAnsiting Planets and PlanetIsmals Small Telescope) operated by the University of Liege, Belgium, the system ultimately owes its name to another Belgian source of pride, the strong ales brewed by Trappist monks, some of which was used in celebration over the discovery.

Seven big maybe-blue marbles, rolling around a tiny sun the size of Jupiter.  Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA has an interest as well, with the Spitzer Space Telescope providing the evidence for the latest 4 TRAPPIST planets.  In recognition, the Exoplanet Travel Bureau has prepared a tourist poster to get people excited about a visit to TRAPPIST-1.  And a short visit can still last “years”. With orbits ranging from 1.5 to 18.5 days, the years really fly by in the TRAPPIST system.

Island-hopping in Hawai’i, or planet-hopping in TRAPPIST-1. Decisions, decisions! Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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